Barack Obama, who made a name for himself with a passionate speech in 2002 arguing against the Iraq War before campaigning for president in 2008 on the promise that he'd end the war once and for all, announced on Friday that, "as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year." That timetable was actually set in place by a 2008 agreement George W. Bush signed with Iraq, which called for all troops to be out by year's end. In fact, the Obama team had been negotiating with Iraq for a few thousand U.S. troops to stay on past 2011. Iraq balked at American demands that U.S. troops retain legal immunity, and a new deal was scuttled. So really, the U.S. "is being kicked out by the very people that we liberated," says GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). Is that a fair assessment?
America is being ejected due to Obama's ineptitude: This irresponsible withdrawal is worse than a politically motivated military retreat, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. If not for Team Obama's "inept negotiations," U.S. forces could have stayed on to help Iraqis and fend off Iran, as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki, U.S. generals, and apparently even Obama himself wanted. Congress should investigate this "bungled diplomacy."
"Obama: A dishonest withdrawal from Iraq"
Actually, this is cause for "real celebration": Pulling out by Jan. 1, 2012 "is the right decision, at the right time," says Marc Lynch at Foreign Policy. "It may have been forced upon the administration by Iraqi political realities," but that's the democracy we fought for. Except for some Iraqi elites who privately hoped U.S. troops would stay in larger numbers, our military isn't wanted or, increasingly, even needed. That's why Obama's negotiators "seem satisfied with the outcome, as they should."
"Yes, the U.S. is withdrawing from Iraq"
Good riddance to a bad situation: Let's be honest, says Reid Smith at The American Spectator. The withdrawal is an "absolutely political" move by Obama, aimed at his anti-war base. But it's also the only decision that makes sense, since America isn't willing to greatly expand our troop presence. Fewer than 5,000 troops would be nothing more than a polarizing target for politicians and armed militants. Iraq will stand or fall on its own now, and it's "just as well American soldiers and Marines do not remain as fodder."
"And that's a wrap in Iraq"